Liberal Arts: Culture Wars, Cartoon Creations, Charged Speech: The School of the Art Institute of Chicago Examines the First Amendment

CHICAGO—For more than 200 years, First Amendment issues have impacted art and civic life through political cartoons, charged speech, culture wars, and the images posted on social media platforms today. The School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC), a global leader in art and design education, will host a panel discussion examining how the First Amendment impacts our freedom of speech and expression.

Moderated by former WGN-TV anchor Robert Jordan, More Speech: A Conversation about the First Amendment will feature the diverse perspectives of artists, journalists, historians, librarians, legal professionals and civic leaders. The panel discussion takes place at the Harold Washington Library’s Cindy Pritzker Auditorium in Chicago on October 1, and, through partnerships with organizations throughout the state, will be livestreamed in Central and Southern Illinois at the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum in Springfield, the Southern Illinois University Morris Library Auditorium in Carbondale and at the Shawnee Community College Education Center in Ullin.

“The School of the Art Institute of Chicago’s over 150-year history includes a deep commitment to civic engagement, because we know art and design are not separate from the culture we live in, the politics we negotiate, and the civilization we build together,” said Elissa Tenny, president of SAIC. “The freedom of expression we’ll interrogate during SAIC’s Citizen Artist Forum More Speech is essential to how artists pursue the questions that expand our understanding, increase our compassion and help make our shared society better across our state, nation, and world.”

SAIC’s Citizen Artist Forum
More Speech: A Conversation about the First Amendment is part of SAIC’s Citizen Artist Forum, a series of panel dialogues where artists join public policy leaders to explore how the arts are integrated into broader discussions on issues of civic concern. Panelists for the discussion include:

  • Jeremy Biles, assistant professor, School of the Art Institute of Chicago
  • Colleen K. Connell, executive director, American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois
  • Jamie Kalven, journalist, human rights activist, and executive director, Invisible Institute
  • David Kohn, executive director of public affairs, Union League Club of Chicago
  • Diana Brawley Sussman, director, Carbondale Public Library

As part of this initiative, SAIC is working with the Illinois Arts Education Association to engage students in art and design education and practice from several Illinois high schools in Alexander, Hardin, Jackson, Johnson, Massac, Pope, Pulaski, Union and Williamson counties. Participating high school students will watch More Speech: A Conversation about the First Amendment panel discussion on October 1, and submit a creative response (visual, oral or written) on the topic. Students with the best responses will be invited to attend SAIC’s two-week Early College Program Summer Institute, an immersive college experience taught by SAIC faculty and working artists, at no cost. These students will learn to live and work among world-class artists and designers in Chicago. Additionally, student artwork will be displayed in Illinois Capitol Rotunda during Illinois Arts Week, and SAIC will collaborate with local partners to create a traveling exhibition of student work featured in downstate art galleries and in Chicago.

The panel discussion is presented by SAIC in partnership with the Illinois Library Association, American Library Association, Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum, Illinois Heartland Library Systems, Shawnee Community College, Southern Illinois University Morris Library, Harold Washington Library and the American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois.

For more information, please visit

More Speech: A Conversation about the First Amendment
Tuesday, October 1, 2019
6:15–7:30 p.m.
Harold Washington Library
400 S. State St., Cindy Pritzker Auditorium


  • Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum, 212 N. Sixth St., multipurpose room, Springfield, Illinois
  • Southern Illinois University, Carbondale, 605 Agriculture Dr., Morris Library Auditorium, Carbondale, Illinois
  • Shawnee Community College Education Center, 8364 Shawnee College Rd., Ullin, Illinois

About the School of the Art Institute of Chicago
For more than 150 years, the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC) has been a leader in educating the world’s most influential artists, designers and scholars. Located in downtown Chicago with a fine arts graduate program consistently ranking among the top programs in the nation by U.S. News and World Report, SAIC provides an interdisciplinary approach to art and design as well as world-class resources, including the Art Institute of Chicago museum, on-campus galleries and state-of-the-art facilities. SAIC’s undergraduate, graduate and post-baccalaureate students have the freedom to take risks and create the bold ideas that transform Chicago and the world—as seen through notable alums and faculty such as Michelle Grabner, David Sedaris, Elizabeth Murray, Richard Hunt, Georgia O’Keeffe, Cynthia Rowley, Nick Cave, Jeff Koons and LeRoy Neiman.


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